Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is the gig up for the global warming alarmists?

Sen. James Inhofe just released a new minority report from his committee that has a list of the growing number of scientists - all of them in climate related fields - who consider themselves skeptics of the AGW hypothesis.

The number is now 650. Many have given statements, some of which call the global warming scare a complete scam. There are Nobel Prize winners and IPCC members among them. \

Bottom line, the sham of the so-called "consensus" is being revealed. But will the alarmists retreat? Don't bet on it.

Monday, December 08, 2008

What is a dollar?

What does a dollar represent? 

It's a store of value. It represents a future claim on a good or service that someone is willing to sell for that amount. But that is obvious.

But drill down a bit further. These goods and services that are bought and sold with these dollars - what are they "made of?" All sorts of things, obviously. Raw materials, labor, capital equipment, brainpower. 

But on a deeper level, every good and service in our economy is really made of energy. Any product that has been manufactured can be thought of as an accumulation of various forms of energy that are manifest in the physical product.  The raw materials took energy to mine or produce, and the capital equipment for the manufacturing process had to be itself be manufactured, and the raw materials for it had to be extracted, processed, sold, delivered, stored until used, etc. 

The products themselves had to be inventoried, packaged, sold, delivered, inventoried again, and sold again. Every step of the way, for every material in the good, used energy as its base component.

So a dollar can be thought of as a future claim on the sum total of societies' production of energy. 

Why am I going through this admittedly pedantic and abstract exercise? Because it is relevant right now, due to the fact that so many people don't seem to understand this truth, which is resulting in some very harmful decisions being made.

If a dollar is a store of energy, would you give that dollar up for anything less than a dollar's worth of energy? Of course not - that would be stupid. It would be a waste of energy. But that is precisely what our politicians are requiring us to do. 

Worse, they are pretending that they are doing this to SAVE energy! 

For example - under the new alternative energy mandates, the state of Oregon is giving all sorts of tax incentives to stimulate wind and solar energy production. The energy produced from these projects costs as much as four times per kilowatt hour than energy produced through conventional means (hydro and/or natural gas.) 

So, by government mandate, we are spending four times as much in energy to produce electricity. That is BAD for the environment!

The very policies that the politicians and the environmentalists claim are good for the environment are actually harming it. They don't understand economics. They don't know what a dollar represents. 

Friday, December 05, 2008

The sad descent of Jack Bogdanski

I remember when I saw the very first post on Jack Bogdanski's blog about Sarah Palin not being the real mother of Trig. It was right after McCain chose her, and I was in studio preparing for my radio show with my co-host Marc Abrams.

The post linked to Daily Kos, which had this series of pictures that supposedly "proved" Sarah Palin wasn't the mother, but that Bristol Palin actually had Trig. I looked at the pictures, and shook my head. "Just another wingnut conspiracy theory at DailyKos," I thought.

But I read Jack's post and it looked as if he actually believed it. I showed it to Marc, and together we looked again at the pictures and read the "proof." Marc dismissed it all out of hand.

But not Jack Bogdanski. No, Jack went on a virtual Jihad. He went all-in on the Palin story, and to this very day he continues to offer up "proof" that Palin faked her pregnancy.

Now, this concerned me quite a bit, because as you may know, Jack Bogdanski had very recently agreed to be Marc Abrams' stand-in for the 30% of the time or so that he is out of town and unable to do our Sunday morning radio show. I had serious reservations about someone co-hosting my show who was so publicly marginalizing himself.

The next time Jack was on, we mixed it up pretty good. It was still hard for me to take seriously - it seemed so inexplicable that a guy of Jack's stature would so publicly lead the charge on a ridiculous theory that had such thin documentary evidence. I mean, this guy is a law professor at Lewis & Clark, for God's sake. And he has cast himself squarely with the lunatic fringe, and not at all quietly.

We discussed it several times, and I even posted aabout it here on this blog. I let Jack know I thought this obsession was seriously unhinged, such as the post in which he discussed at some length the shape and size of Bristol Palin's breasts. Creepy!

But he's gotten even more obsessed with the theory as time has gone on. I can't explain it. The most recent development was a post this week on his blog teasing a "Breaking Development"in the Palin conspiracy. A BLOCKBUSTER!

What was it? More pictures of Sarah that showed her not looking very pregnant. But she was wearing black on black, and she was posing in a way that could easily hide whatever bulge in her belly existed at the time. The photos were hardly conclusive. Some women carry children and hardly show it.

But no, for Jack, these pics are open and shut defacto proof that Sarah Palin is not the mother. And this guy is teaching mush headed liberal students up at Lewis & Clark how to be lawyers!

Well, it is sad. Jack's blog has a lot of good things about it. He exposes a lot of fiscal stupidity at the City of Portland. He is one of the best sources for that kind of thing.

I am saddened that he is destroying his own credibility with this obsession. Even his friends and fellow liberals are telling him that he's off base. But he seems so bought into the theory now, so dug into his position, that he's not coming off the ledge.

In his recent post on the issue, I posted a comment under the name "worried about jack," in which I again pointed out that he is dangerously unhinged on this thing. I of course knew that he would know who posted it - I had already on several occasions both in person sitting across from him on my radio show and on this blog commented on his flight to lunacy.

And now he is calling me a coward for not posting under my name. Whatever.

The upshot is: for reasons not wholly unrelated to this issue, Jack Bogdanski will no longer be my part-time co-host on Kremer & Abrams.

For his sake, I hope he can calm down on this ridiculous conspiracy theory in time to save his own credibility.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Here we go again

Every time the economy is in trouble, what is the headline news? What gets splashed across the front pages and discussed in hand-wringing lead editorials?

The budgets of GOVERNMENT.

All we hear about is what can we do to make sure government doesn't have to feel the impact. And of course we are treated to an endless parade of human-interest stories about how people can possibly get by without this or that government program. It has only just begun.

So perhaps it would be wise to actually put things in perspective. The state revenue reforecast came out yesterday, and the estimate is that the state tax revenue will .....

Increase by $857 million.

Say what? Yup. It's true. That new estimate you hear all that caterwauling about is because state revenues will only go up by almost a billion. You see, in the prior forecast they thought they would have $2 billion more than last biennium, so the government class is crestfallen that some of their big spending plans might be at risk.

It's like if you thought you were getting a big raise next year, then your boss told you it would be smaller than you expected. 

Clearly, this is untenable. Unless the state government has 20% increases each biennium, we are in crisis. Just ask them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why do people vote Republican?

There's a lot of soul searching going on amongst Republicans at the moment, as evidenced by the reaction to my post about Jack Roberts' op-ed piece. Today, I had a lot of time to think about the party's recent hammering, as I spent the day organizing all the leaves in my yard.

It seems to me that people vote Republicans in office when they grow dissatisfied with the way our government institutions are serving the people. The Republican party is the party that reforms government; the Democrat party is the party OF government.

It is the human nature that any institution, over time, evolves to exist primarily to serve the elites in charge of the institution. We've seen this time and again.

Our public school system exists to serve the unions that control it. The public employee pension system grew into an obscene orgy of feather-nesting excess. The land use system serves the vision and desires of extreme environmental groups, at the cost of property rights of landowners.

It's the Republican party that seeks to reform government when these excesses occur, and Republicans win when the party can articulate the need for reform.

But here's our problem: more often than not, when elected and empowered to run government institutions, we forget about reforming them and instead just use the institutions to serve the ends desired by the folks who got elected. Pork, earmarks, and corruption - and the voters throw us out.

That is one reason for our current situation. Republicans in Oregon and nationally became the party of government rather than the party of reforming government. There's already a party for that - and if the voters are in the mood for government, that is who they will elect.

In short, we got booted by voters because we didn't do what voters want when they put Republicans in charge.

This has a big impact on the debate about what Republicans must do to win some elections. We have to be reformers. If voters don't want reform, we won't win. But that's OK. Our current mess isn't because voters don't want reform - it's because we didn't reform anything while we were in office!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The problem with bailouts

Bailouts are a bad idea. There are lots of reasons. 

Here's just one: When the government tries to prop up failing businesses it always come with strings, and those strings make it even harder for the company to succeed. 

Case in point: 

Thomas Friedman wrote in his New York Times column about what he thinks the government should demand in exchange for the bailout of General Motors. He says that GM must: 

"... demonstrate a plan for transforming every vehicle in its fleet to a hybrid-electric engine with flex-fuel capability, so its entire fleet can also run on next generation cellulosic ethanol."

This is such a bad idea. Who knows when and if hybrid/flex fuel/cellulosic ethanol is truly going the be the "next generation" model for automobiles? Friedman certainly doesn't know, nor does the federal government. 

Yet he wants this mandated as a condition of the bailout? What if they are wrong? Then GM will fail again, or more likely, taxpayers will just have to subsidize the production of these supposedly next generation cars forever.

Better to let it fail. The company is failing because of its medical and pension liabilities, not so much because its cars are bad. Let someone else put their own capital at risk buying the assets and making cars that aren't weighed down by a corporate cost structure that makes it uncompetitive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

President Obama

The candidate I supported in this election didn't win. So Barack Obama is going to be president.

This country is in the middle of some very serious problems- possibly the most perilous time since the late 1920's. I hope President Obama succeeds.

Barack Obama is my President. I am an American first and a Republican second. I love our country too much to spend the next four or eight years like the political left in America spent the last eight years, doing its level best to make the President fail.

This doesn't mean I will cheerlead for his policies that I disagree with. When I think he is wrong I will speak out here and on the radio and any other forum I have access to. But even if he successfully passes the things I oppose, I will hope they work. Loyal opposition should be loyal first and opposition second.

I didn't support President-elect Obama, but there are some very positive things about the fact that America elected him. For one, merchants of racial spoils like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have had the rationale for their sorry careers pulled right out from under them. Our nation is better off for it.

And also, as little as I care about how the US is perceived in other countries, the fact that they see a black man elected president is a good thing.

I am not going to spend the next four or eight years pulling against America. If a successful America over the next four years means Barack Obama is re-elected, that is fine by me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jack Roberts talks in circles

So the Republicans got slaughtered in the election, so the conversation turns to what the party needs to do to stop the bleeding. Jack Roberts wrote a guest editorial for the Oregonian with his take on what Republicans should do to regain favor with voters.

Now, I like Jack Roberts. I think he is one of the smartest guys in Oregon politics. But what he wrote, frankly, is nonsense. It's not that I disagree with his prescription - it's that what he wrote literally doesn't make sense. 

Here are some snippets:

"I also think there is plenty of room for us to argue over how best to deal with the challenge of global climate change rather than hunkering down in denial while hoping the sun spots change so that we don't have to."

The problem with this? First, the logical flaw: If we are "hoping" that sun spots change to cool the globe, this implies the climate cycle is a natural phenomena, so no amount of human behavioral change will stop it. I realize he's just trying to turn a clever phrase here, but Jack is usually much more careful than to make an argument for statewide publication that is self-refuting. 

But his argument itself basically is one of capitulation. I don't know if Jack has ever made a serious personal inquiry into the global warming controversy. I'd be disappointed if he had, because he is a smart man, and I find it hard to believe he could have actually looked into the AGW theory and was convinced that we need draconian government controls on energy consumption to deal with it.

But he is essentially arguing Republicans should just concede the question and turn our efforts to figuring out a less harmful way of dealing with it than the Democrats propose. So become Democrat-Lite. 

I think this is wrong on several fronts. First, the D's seem hell-bent on putting a Cap & Trade system in place, which will be a disaster for the economy and will do absolutely nothing to change the climate. It will create a huge new tax, a new government bureaucracy, and it will raise everyone's energy costs and kill jobs. If Republicans go along with this idiotic policy and just argue about the details, as Jack Roberts suggests, we give voters no contrast. 

It is really important that the D's own Cap & Trade lock stock and barrel so when the job killing effects become clear, and the temperature trends continue to expose the lie of the climate models, we can shove it right down their throats. 

Follow Jack's advice and we lose this opportunity. 

Jack Roberts goes on to wish for miracles:

"We need to think seriously about how to extend health insurance to the 15 percent who don't have it without reducing the quality or increasing the cost to the 85 percent who are already covered."

Well, sure. And while we are at it let's "think seriously" about how everyone can have housing and plenty to eat without burdening taxpayers with high taxes or debt. And "think seriously" about how to ensure retirement security for every American without reducing the living standards of people still working. 

When we are done with all this serious thinking, perhaps the serious adults among us will admit that life is full of tradeoffs.

It gets worse, though:

"And if we agree that improving the quality and availability of health care is better than simply continuing to spend more, shouldn't we apply the same reasoning to our schools? But that will require Republicans to end our fixation on vouchers and charter schools, which make it seem like we've given up on the public schools when our real focus should be on how to improve them."

We "agree" that it is better to improve quality and availability of health care than just continuing to spend more? I am not even sure what that means. Did he show us any way to improve the quality and availability of health care? Does anyone anywhere suggest that it can be done without spending more? 

Jack Roberts is usually not given to such breezy proclamations. 

But to take that meaningless platitude and then suggest that applying that "reasoning" to schools means we should give up on charter schools  - that is ironic in the extreme. The charter school movement is PRECISELY what he is looking for - a way to improve the quality and availability of schools without simply spending more! For the first time, because of charter schools, the debate about schools has focused on something other than money.

The charter school movement is arguably the single most important Republican-led reform of any Oregon institution in the last 20 years. It was once a partisan Republican issue, but it is now rooted firmly in the mainstream, with so many Democrat defenders that last session the OEA failed to so much as get a floor vote for their charter-school "reform" in a Senate that was 18-12 Democrat majority.

So, the one Republican-led issue that has succeeded, not only in giving us better schools without spending more, but it has become popular and mainstream to the point that there is not a single Oregon newspaper that is editorially opposed to charters.

And Jack Roberts says the Republicans should "end our fixation" with them, as a route to winning back favor with voters.

Again, I really do like Jack Roberts. His analysis and his thinking is usually far, far better than this. When I read this column I was left wondering, in the vision of Jack Roberts, exactly how would Oregon Republicans differ from the Democrats?

Here's his conclusion: 

"In essence, I believe the challenge for the Republican Party is to become more conservative and less right-wing. We need to be a party of sound principles rather than a rigid, dogmatic ideology." 

OK, again - Jack! This is just drivel! What on Earth does it mean to become more conservative and less right-wing? What exactly is the difference between "principles" and "ideology?" If we have sound principles, should we stay true to them? Or is that being too "dogmatic," and "rigid?" 

I've never known Jack to be this intellectually sloppy. Word has it that the Oregonian is going to replace Dave Reinhard's voice on the editorial pages by having monthly contributions from a panel of Republicans. Jack is one of them, along with Dave Lister, and a couple others. I just hope this piece isn't indicative of the quality of Jack's stuff in the future. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A nose guard's dream come true

My son plays nose guard for Lake Oswego High School. In last night's game, the dream of every defensive lineman came true for him.

(The action starts at about the 1:10 mark.)

Here's another look at the same play, it's just a few seconds in from the start.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Just one blemish

The Funny Paper was in rare form today. Sometimes what they write is just so revealing that you wonder if they don't actually realize how silly they look, or they just simply don't care.

Two items jumped out at me today. First, in their editorial endorsements, they got around to discussing the House race in Lake Oswego for the seat being vacated by Greg MacPherson. The Republican candidate in the race is a Portland lawyer named Steve Griffith. I've been in a few meetings with him lately. He's a very thoughtful and accomplished man who happens to be a liberal on every issue I have ever heard him discuss.

Which of course means The Funny Paper likes him:

"He's a Harvard man -- also Stanford and Oxford -- a lawyer who served with distinction on the Portland School Board and as a director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. A veteran civic activist with an abiding passion for liberal ideals, Griffith could be a Democratic role model."

In other words, just the kind of politician The Funny Paper likes. Except for one problem:

"There's just one blemish. He's running as a Republican."

There you have it. Being a member of one of the two major parties in this country is now a "blemish." They agree with him on everything, but he has a moral defect. He's on the other team.

Then, over in the "Business" section (I put it in scare quotes because TFP long ago stopped pretending it actually wrote about business, about the same time the "Oregon Business Alliance" was founded to work on the important business issues of salmon and climate) they led with the disastrous news that Freightliner had finally pulled the plug on Portland and is moving its manufacturing out of state, along with its 900 jobs.

Now, the story neglected to mention how the State of Oregon recently grabbed Freightliner's kicker refund, or how Portland planners harrassed the firm for years when it wanted to expand its manufacturing facility on Swan Island. Those things weren't mentioned, for some reason, in the article.

But there was a headline, above the fold, across the page, in about 48 point type, that pretty much sums up how The Funny Paper feels about businesses that are trying to fulfill their duty to shareholders:

"This is greed. Flat corporate greed."

A headline that will serve as a clarion call to any corporation that might consider Portland as a place to move or a place to grow: Stay away.

Mysteriously, Oregon's economy leads the nation into every recession, and lags the nation out of every recovery. And The Funny Paper's credibility and circulation continue to slide.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The left's view of production

Did you see the front page story in The Funny Paper today? Nearly the full page, several pictures, recounting how some families are cutting back on consumption in these uncertain economic times.

Or at least that was the ostensible pretext of the article. In reality it was just another entry in their running critique of capitalism.

The article profiled several folks who have arrived at a higher consciousness because they are rejecting our "consumer culture", and have pared back their spending because they are more highly attuned to what are real "needs" vs. just "wants."

Of course there is the obligatory quote from the academic, critical of our culture:

"We live in a microwave society," says Rich Reiner, who teaches psychology and finance at Portland Community College. "We want things instantly. We don't want to take time for anything. That includes stuff we want, places we want to go."

And it goes on to give vignettes about four people who have decided more or less to reject our consumer culture and live more simply. The sub-text of the entire article is the same thing we have seen out of TFP time and again over the years - America is evil because we consume so much more than any other country, and our people are inferior because we find fulfillment in consumption.

What the left never seems to understand, so eager they are to trash America, is that before anything anywhere can be "consumed," one little detail has to be taken care of: that thing has to be PRODUCED.

So saying the U.S. consumes more than any other nation means that we are a larger engine for production than any other country. And that stuff we produce and consume? It makes our lives better, and the lives of everyone who is touched by the production stream.

They pretend that shrinking is a strategy for solving our nation's problems. If only everyone would consume less, we would all be better off, they seem to think. Ever see the bumper sticker: "Live simply, so others can simply live."

That is precisely the ethic that pervaded this article, and that the left seems to believe is true. In reality, it is amazingly wrongheaded - it is 180 degrees wrong. It is completely backward. "Living simply" would bring tremendous harm to others.

What would happen to the world if everyone in the U.S. decided to consume 30% less? Live in less space, buy 30% less groceries, clothing, consumer goods of all types. There would be a worldwide depression. People would starve, especially in third world countries whose only hope of climbing out of despair is to produce things for our markets.

The fact is, shrinking is not a route out of our problems, it is a recipe for misery and long term despair. The ironic thing is that the geniuses at The Funny Paper don't seem to understand the implications of their own ideology.

Imagine how much less advertising would be done in a world where "live simply" is the watchword? It would hasten the day that they go out of business, for sure.

Which, perhaps, is the one silver lining to this madness.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Why the left comes unhinged

For eight years we've been hearing about what a dumb guy President Bush is. Eight years of incessant snarkiness from comedians, talking heads, bloggers and columnists. Even as Bush outfoxed liberals time and time again on political strategy, they kept it up.

And it's not just Bush. They did the same thing to Reagan. If you listened to those geniuses in our cultural and media institutions, you'd have thought Reagan was a blithering idiot.

The list is long of Republican/conservative politicians that the mainstream media has made out to be complete dopes. Ford, Quayle, Bush, Reagan, and now Palin.

John Fund was in town this week, and he sat down with Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week. In the interview, Fund says:

"I’ve noticed over the last 40 years that there have been lots of people who have developed a reputation for being dim, slow, clueless or out of touch.

Gerald Ford. Some guy named Reagan who was an “amiable dunce.” Dan Quayle. Even the first President Bush got a little bit of that. George W. Bush. Lots of people of national stature have had the “dumb” label slapped on them.

In that 40 year period, can you name one liberal politician of national stature who ever got that reputation, ever? There isn’t one. There isn’t one."

Think of that. He's right - there simply has NEVER been a single left/liberal/Democrat politician of national stature that they attacked for being a dimwit. On one level, I guess, it's easy to explain. They are leftist, and so they won't attack another lefty no matter how dumb.

But I think the explanation goes a good bit beyond that, and it is quite revealing and also explains why the cultural left in this county is so often rejected by middle America.

Liberalism, at its core, is an elitist world view. It's a world view that in essence says that government should have expanded purview over individuals, because the choices people would make in the absence of government controls are wrong. This of course requires a ruling class - elites who have a higher level of consciousness than the masses, and they get to write the rules and enforce them.

Guess who considers themselves to be those elites? All those folks in charge of our cultural and political institutions: the mainstream media, institutions of higher education, the chattering class.

So what happens when national political figures who don't share their world view hits the stage? Well, by definition, they simply cannot be smart, because if they were, they would share their liberal world view.

And so it is obvious to them that Reagan, Ford, Quayle, Bush are dunces. They get to make jokes, snicker, and create their little collages of all their malaprops to prove how right they are.

The never do the same thing to guys like Al Gore or Joe Biden (who, as Fund points out, you could easily make look like a blithering idiot by stringing together a few video clips.) They give Al and Joe a pass because they CAN'T be stupid - these guys share their world view.

The best part of all this, however, is how the cultural left reacts when the general public just doesn't buy their narrative. They don't just come unhinged, although they certainly do that. They attack middle America that rejects their view.

Look what happened when America re-elected Bush. Look how they are treating Sarah Palin. And just watch (and enjoy) how much they HATE IT when regular everday Americans in flyover country reject what the cultural elites tell them about Sarah, and continue to like her.

They come absolutely unhinged, and they attack more, which drives people to reject them more, bringing on more attacks - and the cycle continues.

Just look at my buddy Jack Bogdanski. For years he has referred to Bush as "the chimp." He's written a constant stream of the nastiest and most mean-spirited invective. And now with the meteoric rise of Sarah Palin, Jack is quite literally over the edge.

He's blocking posters on his blog who disagree with him, in even the mildest way. (I am currently blocked from his blog - a fact I just think is downright funny, given that I have invited him to be my co-host on my radio show when Marc Abrams is out of town. "Jack, come on my show for the express purpose of disagreeing with me. Sure, Rob, but you can't post on my blog.")

And now he's just gone around the bend trying to keep alive the ridiculous conspiracy theory that Sarah Palin faked her pregnancy. Even his friends are telling him he's unhinged. He's actually analyzing the shape of Bristol Palin's breasts by way of claiming she is not currently pregnant!

You see the same loony-bin behavior at Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and Air America radio. Their world view basically requires them to show their contempt for anybody who doesn't share it, and when they realize that includes all of middle America, they prove again and again how much they despise them.

And that is the good news. Middle America never bought the notion that Reagan was stupid. Cultural elites said it so many times in their echo chamber that they thought everyone agreed. Middle America never bought the notion that Bush is stupid. And they certainly don't think Sarah Palin is stupid.

The fun part is watching their reaction when people dismiss their invective. They get hysterical. enjoy the show.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Czech President visits on microbrew trade tour

The head of state of a NATO country visits Portland to give a speech challenging the man-made global warming hypothesis. What does The Funny Paper report about the visit?

All about his visit to Bridgport Brew Pub, and how Czech beer differs from Oregon beer.

I am not kidding.

Do we need any more evidence that this sorry excuse for a newspaper has completely jettisoned any pretense that it is a journalistic enterprise?

The Funny Paper has been banging the global warming alarmist drum for a decade now. It is so dug into the position that it can't even bring itself to write a straight news report on a visit from a head of state who came for the express purpose of making a speech that happens to challenge The Funny Paper's position?

Why does anyone still believe in their credibily as a neutral source of news?

Oh. Nobody does.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Funny Paper's hatchet job on Matt Wingard

Dave Hogan wrote the most obviously slanted hatchet job on Matt Wingard yesterday. I have not ever met nor dealt with Hogan, nor will I ever. He proved by this article that he is not in fact a serious journalist, but rather has an axe to grind.

Why do I say that?

He "reported" on the recent mailer sent out by Matt Wingard's opponent that slams Wingard for his conviction of misdemeanor abuse of his son. The news of his conviction, of course, is old. The Funny Paper already wrote about it months ago. So they had to concoct another story line so they could bring it up again - so the mail piece the Democrats sent is the big news.

OK fine. Use the mailer as a pretext to bring it up again. But one would think that a serious reporter would just write the story. Not Dave Hogan. He had more to prove.

He printed the allegations the mother of Matt's child made in court in 2004 in the middle of a child custody fight. We all know, of course, how charges and countercharges fly in these cases. But Hogan printed them up wholesale, even though the court obviously discounted them entirely, since Wingard did indeed win visitation rights with his son.

Nowhere in the story does Hogan mention that Wingard won visitation in that very court proceeding in which the mother made these allegations. One might surmise that if the judge thought they were credible, the last think he would do is grant visitation.

Hogan so much wants to hide this fact that he so helpfully writes: "But when told that Wingard said none of her allegations were true, she [the boy's mother] noted that the abusive treatment was documented by her son's pediatrician at the time."

Which is to say that the pediatrician records note that she made these allegations. That's all. Not that the doctor confirmed the abuse, which is what Hogan is trying to imply here. No, the doctor records simply note the allegation.

Here's the final proof that Hogan is a complete hack: You think that perhaps the fact that the courts have completely expunged ths conviction from Wingard's record might be a salient fact to report in a story like this?

Nowhere to be found.

Dave Hogan - I haven't ever met you, but I can assure you this: I will never deal with you in any way on any story. I only deal with journalists.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Columbia Riverkeepers consorts with terrorists

Over at NWRepublican there's a shocking post showing a connection between Columbia Riverkeepers, a local enviro group that opposes any productive use of the river, and convicted enviro-terrorists.

The connection is informal, to be sure, but it is a connection nonetheless. Which brings up the important questions:

The head of Columbia Riverkeepers, Brent Foster, is closely associated with the Democrat power structure in Oregon. He is a pal of Gov. Kulongoski, and also of soon-to-be Attorney General John Kroger.

Why do our statewide officials hang out with (and support the policies of) people who associate with terrorists? Why does a group like Columbia RiverKeepers even have a shred of credibility?

People should start asking both Kulongoski and Kroger (as well as any other pol who hangs out with Foster) why they associate with a friend of terrorists.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gibson takes Palin quote totally out of context

It was an amazing moment in this campaign. Charlie Gibson got caught on national TV distorting Sarah Palin's quote in order to make it appear as if she is some kind of kookie religious fanatic.

Here is the exchange:

Gibson: "You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war? "

Palin: "You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote."

Gibson: "Exact quote."

Sorry, Charlie, not good enough. You don't get to choose which part of the sentence you quote in order to change the meaning of the words.

Here is what Palin said at her church:

"Pray for our military men and women, who are striving to do what is right also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God--that's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan. So bless them with your prayers, your prayers of protection for our soldiers."

This couldn't be more clear. She is obviously saying "Pray that our leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God." That is just a tad different from saying "They are on a task from God."

Typical mainstream media treatment of religious politicians. Try to make them seem like religious fanatics.

I hope Gibson loses even more credibility from this, because what he did is essentially a bald-faced lie dressed up in an out of context quote.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

This guy has it exactly right

I've never heard of this columnist before, no doubt because Financial Times is a European publication. But his column analyzing the liberal response to Palin is right on the money.

Meanwhile, Democrats are no doubt puzzled why McCain is now in the lead.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Subbing for Lars today

Lars is on his way back to Portland from the RNC, so I will be subbing for him today. I'll be talking, of course, about the convention, McCain's speech, and the Palin phenomenon.

I will take a bow for my predicition on how the Palin choice would play out. In my posts this week I begged the left to keep up the attacks. I knew that the more they went overboard with their condescending elitism, the more regular folks would come to her defense.

They did, and they did.

Palin gave an incredible speech, and now she's off on the campaign trail. Polling this morning by Rasmussen has the race basically tied, and that poll was done over three days - two of which were before Palin's speech.

Rasmussen also polled Palin. She has 58% positives - higher than Obama! More than half of people say that the media is trying to hurt her candidacy - an astounding result. That is the first time I have seen any poll in which more than half the people said the media was definitely biased.

In other words, Sarah Palin has taken on the media, and beat the crap out of them.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Double the buy

There is an adage in political campaigning I learned long ago: When you are pushing a message on radio, TV or elsewhere, and your opponents and their supporters are screaming bloody murder about it, it is time to "double the buy."

In other words, boos on the road are like cheers at home. If your opponents are screaming at you, that means you are onto something. That is why all the screaming about Sarah Palin is music to my ears. I hope it continues.

And it will. Expect the attacks on Sarah Palin to ratchet up from here. The mainstream media, columnists, editorial boards, bloggers - they think they are hurting Palin and McCain by their breathless attacks, but they aren't. They so misunderstand "the folks!"

Remember how they ridiculed Dan Quayle? He was the laughingstock of the chattering class for years. Who won that election? The truth was, middle America never disdained Dan Quayle, despite being told what a lightweight he was by everyone from the New York Times to Jay Leno.

The same is true here. Maureen Dowd and her like minded east coast elitists actually think middle America listens to them. They are pulling out all the stops trying to create a narrative around Sarah Palin, but it is not going to work.

"The folks" see Sarah Palin as a very interesting, accomplished, likeable woman who is under attack by the elitists who cannot abide a woman who doesn't share their liberal values being considered for higher office. The more hysterical the attacks get, the more the folks will like Palin.

Tonight's speech will be so much fun. I can't wait to hear the commentary afterwards. You think the attacks are shrill now? Just wait until they have to "analyze" what Palin says in 20 minutes of a well crafted message to cheering throngs. It will drive them (further) around the bend.

Hang tough. The left has written the narrative they want to be true, and one thing we learned from the Dan Quayle experience is that they will never ever give up the narrative. They continued to call Quayle a lightweight even while he quietly ran circles around the left with his "Council on Competitiveness."

It'll be even worse for Sarah Palin. If McCain/Palin wins, the left will forever call her the "Trophy VP," and other dismissive names.

Just ignore it. Let Sarah be Sarah. People like her. The left is going to go crazy, which just means it is time to double the buy. Let's feed them all Sarah all the time!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Come Watch Sarah Palin's Speech

Watch Sarah Palin's acceptance speech for the Republican VP nomination with all the other political junkies Wednesday night at the Executive Club!

Whatever the regularly scheduled presentations (which includes me as a speaker) we will truncate, shorten, interrupt and/or do whatever needed to watch the live feed of Palin's speech from the convention floor.

So come and watch the historic speech at the Executive Club! Shilo Inn, Airport, at 6:00 PM.

Their contempt for us is palpable

Maureen Dowd's column in the New York Time on Sunday. A must read, if you want a good example of the utter contempt the east coast liberals have for all of us in "Flyover country."

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Reagan quote I want to keep

(One reason for my blog is entirely self-serving - a place to post stuff I want to keep around where I can get it.)

"I have always believed that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage."

Sarah Palin sends the left over the edge

This has been amazing to watch - the left is going absolutely unhinged over the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate.

Ironically, Republicans almost universally hailed the choice. But the left seems hell bent on destroying her quickly, and are pulling out all the stops to do it.

Over at Jack Bog's Blog, there are multiple threads presenting the most outrageous and scurrilous rumors, each with dozens of comments. Jack Bogdanski, usually a very rational, even tempered guy, latched on to the conspiracy theory of Sarah Palin actually being Trig's grandmother, and simply would not let it go. Even after it was pretty soundly debunked.

I saw James Carville argue that she was unqualified because she was mayor of a "tiny" Alaska town. He actually held up a picture of the Wassila City Hall, and said "this is the city hall where she was mayor. It looks more like a tackle shop."

Oh, my. Could there be a better example of middle America detesting left coast elitism? Please please I hope they keep this up. An awful lot of people would see Carville hold up that picture and think: "yep, that is pretty much what my city hall looks like."

What Carville apparently thought was ipso-facto proof that Palin wasn't ready for prime time was actually just more evidence (as if we need it) that the Carville Gucci-loafer crowd holds middle American values in contempt.

I'm telling you - this is going to shape up to be the narrative of this race. The reaction of the left to Palin has made it inevitable. The more the left attacks Palin, the more voters will perceive they are attacking the very values she embodies and they share.

The left can't help it. A woman with Palin's views and record can't be allowed to exist any more than a black with Clarence Thomas's views. They will try to destroy her, just as they did him. Remember Biden's performance in the Thomas hearings?

The left just doesn't understand middle America, because in their heart of hearts they hate it. I heard commentators this weekend say things such as: "Well, a woman who is pro-life will certainly be unpopular among women." And "Bristol's pregnancy will hurt Palin with the family values crowd."

How little they understand. How fortunate we are that they don't. There is a reason that the Democrats keep losing presidential elections, and that the only times they won was with a candidate who was not of their ilk.

I have never been more positive about the McCain campaign than I am at this moment. The hue and cry we are seeing from the left is music to my ears. The more Jack Bogdanski screams that Palin choice is a horror show, the more positive I get.

Sarah Palin is an incredibly accomplished woman. She is tough and she has guts.

To paraphrase something I read this weekend (I can't find it to link to it):

Obama shinnied up the greasy pole by ingratiating himself to a corrupt political machine in Chicago, carefully avoiding controversy by refusing to challenge any of the corruption. Then he used the favors he gained from the machine to support his rise to national prominence.

Palin, on the other hand, rose by taking on the corrupt old boy's network in Alaska, and got elected without any of their support, taking on the most powerful politician in the state and beating him in a primary. Then, when she got power she used it to root corruption out.

That is a HUGE difference.

Barack Obama isn't even remotely as qualified as Palin.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Calling all Bloggers!

You are invited to a Bloggers Luncheon, this Tuesday in Wilsonville. The occasion is the kickoff of a new statewide campaign about energy policy by Freedomworks.

If you have an interest in coming and hearing about what is being planned (and perhaps being a part of it) just leave me a comment here, and I will email you the details.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Krugman gets a smackdown

A few days ago in The Funny Paper, nationally syndicated columnist Paul Krugman wrote yet another alarmist screed about global warming.

Today, Dr. Martin Hertsberg - a retired meteoroligst with a PhD in physical chemistry - a lifelong liberal democrat - took him to task for it in an open letter. As the so-called Global Warming Consensus is revealed to be the outright lie it always was, the left is getting increasingly shrill.

Read the letter below:
Dear Prof Krugman:

I have generally found myself in strong agreement with most of the opinions expressed in your columns dealing with politics and the economy. I am a lifelong liberal Democrat, but I am also a scientist.

In your interview with Keith Obermann last night, there was an implication that somehow those of us who are human-caused global warming skeptics were all supported by big-oil money. In the 20 years that I have been studying this issue and expressing my skepticism, I have never received a cent from either big-oil or the government to study the problem. You failed to mention the 50 billion being spent by governments to finance research that supports the human-caused global warming theory.

In this morning’s article “Can This Planet Be Saved”, you simply regurgitated the typical fear-mongering hysteria that the Gore-IPCC-Hansen clique promulgate without any serious consideration of the fact that that hysteria is based on half-baked computer models that have never been verified and that are totally our of touch with reality. I am sure that as an Economist you have seen similar econometric models that are similarly out of touch with reality coming from the likes of “the Chicago boys” or the Heritage Foundation.

I have taken the liberty of attaching copies of Alexander Cockburn’s articles that appeared in the Nation Magazine last year. They are based, in part, on my studies of the issue. Also attached is a recent talk I gave on the subject. It has been published in the Australian web-site: Also attached is a list of web-sites of global warming skeptics. I can only hope that you will read the attachments with an open mind and consider the possibility that you might need an informed and objective science adviser before making any further pronouncements on the subject.

I will also forward under separate cover, a letter I sent to the President of the American Physical Society about their treatment of a well known global warming sceptic, Lord Monckton. If you might recall, he had routinely advertized in the N. Y. Times, challenging Gore to a debate on the issue, which Gore ignored.

You can always tell the difference between a propagandist and a scientist. If a scientist has a theory, he looks diligently for facts that might contradict his theory so that he can test its validity or refine it. The propagandist on the other hand selects only those facts that agree with his theory and dutifully ignores those facts that contradict it.


Dr. Martin Hertzberg
P. O. Box 3012
Copper Mountain, CO 80443

Friday, August 01, 2008

The consumption police

Front page Funny Paper today, all about the carbon footprint of regular consumables. I KNEW this wasn't far behind.

As soon as we accept any kind of carbon taxing/measuring/limiting regime, there is simply no limit to the ways in which government will intrude on what we do and how we behave. The sustainability nags can indict ANY consumption at all they don't like.

The article says half of all carbon emissions come from the manufacture of consumer goods. It laments that we don't even try to measure it. But have no fear! Oregon wants to be the first state to track carbon emissions from consumer goods.

David Allaway from Oregon's DEQ says that unless we see changes in "consumer behavior," our CO2 emissions from consumption will continue to climb, because of the expected population increase in Oregon.

The real culprit here, of course, is economic growth. A sure way to reduce CO2 is to slow down the economy. Poor people don't buy much stuff. A state full of paupers will be uber-sustainable.

Do these people realize what happens when we "reduce consumption?" What has to happen before anything can be consumed? Yup, it's gotta be produced. So if the government's goal is for us to reduce consumption, what they are really saying is we should reduce production, which means shrink the job base.

Any volunteers for voluntarily becoming unemployed so the bureaucrats can meet their carbon reduction targets from consumables? Do you think any government jobs will be the ones that go?

This is dangerous. Chilling, really. I am just shocked that so many people seem to blithely go along, and apparently not see how damaging this is.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Milton Friedman's 96th Birthday

I was asked to give a speech to a gathering assembled by the Cascade Policy Insitute on the occasion of Milton Friedman's 96th birthday, which I gave today.

Milton Friedman: The most influential economist in history

I can't tell you what an honor it is to be here today, and have the chance to pay tribute, on what would have been his 96th birthday, to a man who had a profound affect on my life. Though I never met him, I always felt as if my life and career was somehow steered by the power of Milton Friedman's ideas.

Milton Friedman is my hero.

A lasting regret of mine is that I didn't make more of a concerted effort to meet him before he died. That, of course, is my fault and my loss, but even never having met Milton Friedman, he had a profound influence on my education, my understanding of the world, and my career.

As Matt said, the first time I remember hearing the name Milton Friedman was in my first college economics class, at Willamette University in 1978. He was already a towering intellectual figure, two years removed from winning the Nobel Prize in economics.

At the time, as many of you my age or above recall, the U.S. was in the throes of an economic phenomenon that was not supposed to happen under the prevailing orthodoxy of macroeconomics at the time - Keynesianism. In the Keynesian world, high inflation was always accompanied by low unemployment, and vice versa. The Phillips Curve.

The Keynesian view was overwhelmingly the consensus view among economists and policymakers in 1978. As President Nixon once famously said: "We're all Keynesians now." Well, everybody except Milton Friedman.

But in the '70s, we got "Stagflation:" high inflation at the same time as a high unemployment rate. That wasn't supposed to happen, in a Keynesian world, and nobody knew what to do. Well, nobody but Milton Friedman.

Friedman had long argued that the Keynesian policy of "fine tuning" an economy through government fiscal and monetary policy was wrong, and had predicted that the long post WWII expansion - during which time the Keynesian policies ruled - would come to an abrupt end.

So in the late 1970's, as the Keynesian world was shattered, Milton Friedman was looking very prophetic. Short term interest rates were touching 20% and inflation was in the mid-teens. Unemployment above 10% - For the first time his alternative to Keynesian macroeconomics – Monetarism - gained traction among economists and policymakers.

It was in the middle of this national debate that I started studying economics at Willamette. My economics advisor at the time had spent a recent summer at the University of Chicago, where he met Milton Friedman and learned about the "Chicago School."

As I spent my two years at Willamette, taking more econ classes and talking with my advisor, The Chicago School, and the name Milton Friedman came up time and again. Clearly, Chicago was the place to be for economics. Encouraged by my advisor, I decided to transfer to Chicago, and continue my studies there.

I came from a family of public school teachers. By this time my father was an administrator - he was a high school principal in the Beaverton School District. Both my parents were good Democrats, liberals. I thought I was too. I dutifully voted for Jimmy Carter in my first presidential year ballot. And of course, as a family, we were very pro-public education.

I arrived at Chicago in 1980, a small town boy in a big city school. I was wide eyed, to be sure. But I was ready for a big academic challenge. What I wasn't ready for, and what I certainly didn't anticipate, was to have every my every political and economic and social assumption challenged, probed, and questioned by the ideas of Milton Friedman and The Chicago School of Economics.

Milton Friedman was gone from Chicago by then - at least physically. He left the year before for the Hoover Institute. But he wasn't really gone. Friedman's shadow loomed large over the economics department at Chicago. His wit, his disarming charm, his debate style - he was legendary and we all tried to mimic him.

But his ideas: they were the most powerful. Milton Friedman was a man who cared about ideas, who was defined by his ideas, and whose ideas were so powerful, so compelling, so robust that time and again they were the force behind major social changes that we still benefit from today.

All the ideas and policies that Milton Friedman became known for had one overarching theme: freedom. Individual liberty. Milton Friedman believed individual freedom is a moral good. He once said that his main theme in public policy was the promotion of freedom. And there has never been a more articulate voice in defense of freedom than Milton Friedman.

He is arguably is the most influential economist in history in terms of providing the intellectual and theoretical basis for major changes in public policy in areas that affected - and continue to affect, every single one of our lives.

His monetarist approach to macroeconomics was adopted by Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, and was largely responsible for taming the inflation monster of the 1970's. It required a temporary spike in interest rates and a deep recession, but the monetarist approach of targeting money supply rather than interest rates prevailed. Since 1981, a time when the Fed has largely pursued a monetarist approach, swings in the business cycle have been much less frequent, and less severe than the 50 years before.

Friedman was instrumental in ending the Military Draft, he argued that conscription was an immoral limitation of freedom by government- indeed, a form of slavery. He thought that an all volunteer military would be more effective anyway. He convinced Nixon to end the draft in 1973.

Friedman argued for a system of floating international currencies, and convinced Nixon to end the Bretton Woods system that pegged foreign currencies to the dollar, and the dollar to gold.

Throughout the cold war, a time when many of Friedman's colleagues we beguiled by communism, seeing it as just another valid form of political economy. Friedman saw it for what it was: an inherently immoral ideology that survived only enslaving its subjects. He was one of the first to predict that communism would fail. At a time when many of his fellow economists spoke of the efficiency and superiority of a planned economy, Friedman knew that bureaucrats were no match for markets.

Among those who Friedman convinced about this was Ronald Reagan. Reagan broughtabout the Soviet Union's collapse not through military confrontation per-se, but by putting pressure on its inherently contradictory economic system. Friedman was right: the Soviet Union economy collapsed.

In looking at Milton Friedman's life work, it is interesting to ponder just what was it about this man that made him so right about so many things? Why could he see so clearly what so many of his colleagues were blind to? How did he know that Keynesian policies would fail, that communism would fail, and that a volunteer military was superior?

I think it is because, as accomplished and expert as he was on all of the subjects he studied, his clarity of vision wasn't really because he understood the subjects better than his contemporaries, but because he understood FREEDOM better than his contemporaries.

For Milton Friedman, freedom was the cardinal virtue. He knew in the core of his being that policies, laws, economic systems, and political regimes that were based on limiting freedom were inferior, and would fail. So he didn't necessarily have to know more about every subject than others to be able to see things more clearly. (That said, he always DID know more about every subject than anyone else.)

Milton Friedman also applied his cardinal principle of freedom to education. Fifty three years ago - 1955 - he coined the word voucher when he proposed that a better way to provide education services would be through a system of parental choice.

Interestingly, as much a supporter of unfettered free markets as he was, Milton Friedman had no qualms with public funding of education. He was an economist first, and he recognized the conditions of "market failure" that justify government involvement in the marketplace.

When a cost of a product can be forced on parties not involved in the transaction - like industrial pollution - Friedman recognized that there is a role for government. He called these "neighborhood effects,"

He knew that neighborhood effects can be both negative AND positive. That is, there are some services that benefit everybody when provided, not just the person who consumes them. Friedman thought that education was one of these services. Everyone benefits from an educated populace, so there is a valid role for government to subsidize education.

So Friedman supported government-funded education. What he understood wasthat government need not be the service provider - and in fact there were very good reasons why the government, although it should fund education, it SHOULD NOT run the schools.

Friedman proposed, in 1955, parents should be given a voucher that they could use to send their child to any school of their choosing. In 1955, this was a radical idea. Dissatisfaction with the public school system back then barely registered. There were no teachers unions. Most school districts were still quite small. The education bureaucracy was a fraction of its current size.

Yet Friedman saw what would be the future of the public school system under its current structure as clearly as he saw the future of Soviet Communism: any system based on coercion rather than freedom is doomed to fail. He understood, way back in 1955, that a school system that was not based on parental choice would end up being operated for the benefit of the adults in the system, rather than the children.

This brings me to one of the enduring truths I heard Milton Friedman say, something I have always kept in mind as I’ve worked in the political arena here in Oregon. I don't remember the exact setting - it was a TV interview I saw him give. He said:

"Politics 101 tells us that any political arena will over time become co-opted by the concentrated interests at the expense of the diffuse interests."

Milton Friedman saw the inevitable path of the public school system because he understood this truth. In the political arena of public schools, the employees are the concentrated interests. They can organize easily, raise funds, influence elections, lobby the legislature and co-opt the political process. The parents and children – they are the diffuse interests: they number in the hundreds of thousands, they are not easily organized, and each has only a small comparative stake in the outcome compared to the employees.

So Friedman saw, way back in 1955, that if the public school system stayed with the model of government operated schools, they would evolve to serve the adults in the system rather than the students they were supposed to educate.

Friedman wrote and spoke about his voucher idea regularly for the next forty years, but it wasn't until 1990 that things started to happen. That year, Oregon voted on a school choice ballot measure (sponsored by Steve Buckstein - the first statewide vote on a school choice plan in the nation) That failed, but later that year the Wisconsin legislature passed a voucher plan for residents of the city of Milwaukee – the first voucher in the country.

Things took off from there. In 1991, Minnesota passed the nation’s first charter school law, and by the end of the decade, 80% of the states had some form of a charter law.

In 1996, Friedman started the Friedman Foundation, in order to help establish school choice programs in the U.S. (Actually, Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose, started the foundation, the formal name of which is the Milton & Rose Friedman Foundation. I would be remiss not to mention Rose, because she was an award winning economist in her own right. She grew up in Portland, and is still alive.)

I remember when I first heard about the foundation. Its President, Gordon St. Angelo, kicked it off by going on the Rush Limbaugh show. I had recently become active in the school choice arena here in Oregon, in no small part because of Friedman's intellectual work on the school choice.

I found the number, called and spoke to Mr. St. Angelo that very day. I couldn't believe that my hero had started a foundation to assist people like me!

I've been blessed to have had their help over the years on all sorts of issues as we've struggled to make headway on school choice in Oregon.

The fact that Friedman devoted his life's fortune to reforming the school system speaks volumes. He was the world's leading authority on monetary policy. His body of work spanned decades and encompassed dozens of subjects. But when it came time to decide on how to invest his financial legacy in the future of our nation, he chose school choice.

If freedom was the overarching theme for all his pursuits, he obviously considered educational freedom to be the most pressing issue for our future.

Since the Friedman Foundation was founded in 1996, it has made a huge difference. 14 states now have some type of tax credit or voucher program established in law, and the Friedman Foundation has been active in helping every single one since its founding.

They've helped in Oregon, too. I know they have been very helpful with Matt's tax credit project. Heavens knows, Oregon needs the help.

Can we have school choice in Oregon? Can we extend the movement beyond our modest charter school law? Can Oregon join the list of 14 states that have passed legislation for some kind of tax credit or voucher plan?

Well it took three legislative sessions to get our charter school law passed, and I remember the long odds we were told we faced when we started. But we succeeded, and now there will be nearly 90 charter schools opening their doors for school next month here in Oregon.

The "concentrated interests" in Oregon were against the charter school law from the start, and they still try every single legislative session to kill the law. And since they haven't been able to kill the law, they take aim at the most successful schools.

You've probably heard or read about the Oregon Connections Academy, Oregon's largest on-line charter school. Connections Academy has more than 1800 students, who are taught at home through an innovative combination of on-line lessons and traditional school activities. To say this school is a success is a huge understatement. They hoped to enroll 500 students in the first year, but ended up having to turn down more than 1000 applications, after enrolling 800. This fall it will have well more than 2000 students from every corner of the state, making it one of the largest schools of any kind in Oregon.

In other words, it is a very big target for the concentrated interests who are threatened by the existence of schools that they do not control. The Teachers Union is trying to shut the school down. We’ve been through several battles against the union and their proxies already, and they will not ever stop. It is their expressed intent to close the doors of the Oregon Connections Academy, and tell 2000 students, and their parents, that their choice doesn’t matter.

Can you imagine a better illustration of the immorality of a system based on coercion?

What can we do? Well, what would Milton Friedman do? Give up?

He argued for decades that the Soviet Union would fail before it collapsed under the weight of its own inherent contradictions. The concentrated interests in the education arena are no different. Their existence depends on limiting the freedom of others. They look very strong – but so did the USSR when Carter was President. A school system built on coercion and limiting choices is inferior, and will eventually fail. Milton Friedman knew this.

I believe he saw the future of the public school system with the same clarity as he saw the future of the Soviet Union, and for the same reasons. And I believe he started his foundation to help give a push, an assist to bring about more quickly what he could see was the inexorable force of history.

And so here today, we look at the political environment in Oregon and think the prospects for getting school choice – for instance, passing legislation such as Matt Wingard proposes -- looks bleak: the deck is stacked against us. The teachers unions are strong, the Democrats are in control and they oppose us, the media is not on our side.

But we have one big advantage, an advantage that I think Milton Friedman understood better than anyone, which is why he was so prescient: We are on the right side of history.

The history of humanity is the history of the extension of human freedom from all forms of political bondage.

So, take heart! School choice is just one facet of this long term march to freedom. History is on our side. Our enemy is weaker than you think. The object in the mirror is smaller than it appears.

Happy 96th Birthday, Milton Friedman.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Western States Economic Suicide Pact

OK, here we go! The "Western Climate Initiative," has released its draft plan for the regional greenhouse gas cap and trade scheme.

Mark the date in history! Years from now, when the government bureaucracy that is charged with administering this disastrous program has reached its full-grown, intrusive, stifling maturity, we can all think back to the heady days when the planners and environmentalists and power-hungry politicians birthed this mutant monster.

You really have to go read the draft to understand just what they want to do to our economy and our way of life. The details are at once chilling and vague.

I'll take a run at describing it, half formed though it is:

The arbitrary goal has been set to reduce greenhouse gasses (GHG's) by 15% under 2005 levels by the year 2020. There isn't anywhere I could find any estimate of the benefit of doing this. They say their goal is to reduce gasses enough to "significantly lower the risk of dangerous threats to the climate," which they say will actually require reductions in CO2 by 50-85% by the year 2050.

OK, stop right there. Here they are proposing a huge new tax, a huge new government program, and there is only the most vaguely formed rationale for any way it will benefit us. The documents basically assume that CO2 reduction is obviously good in and of itself, no real reason necessary to propose draconian limits on energy use to justify it.

Moving forward:

Together, the "Partner" states and provinces (OR, WA, CA, NM, MT, UT are the states) will estimate their actual emissions of the greenhouse gasses (GHG's) they plan to regulate, and this will be the "cap" in the first year of the program, 2012.

So the governments will have to try to measure the GHG's emitted by every manufacturing plant, commercial facility, the transportation sector, residential, electrical generation plants, cogeneration plants, etc. So starts the bureaucracy. Obviously the only way to do this is to mandate some system for monitoring and reporting by all the regulated entities.

Since these initial levels become the first "cap," and each of the regulated entities knows that their own baseline measure will also become their cap level upon which all future reductions are based, and since the method for actually measuring and monitoring the carbon footprint of all these different entities is subjective at best, there is plentiful opportunity and incentive for game playing, political deal cutting, and what economists call "rent-seeking."

So, once this baseline cap is set, every three years there will be a ratcheting down of the cap in a straight line until the 15% reduction is met by 2020.

Now for the "trade" part of the scheme. This is where it gets pretty funny, because they studiously avoid admitting that the scheme is basically a hidden tax on energy use, but they make all sorts of vague references to how they will use all the money they collect, because that is the point of the whole exercise in the first place.

Each state, after taking its baseline reads, will grant "allowances" to each regulated entity. This is their GHG cap. They left open to each state whether these allowances are just given to the regulated entity, or if they are 'auctioned" (read: taxed.)

This is where all the shenanigans will come. Here's the deal: the state is proposing a ubiquitous tax on every consumer and producer of energy. All these industries and firms aren't going to just sit back and bear the brunt of the new tax. But they DO see the train coming down the track.

So every single one of them are going to use their political influence to make sure the train hits the other guy, or even to manipulate the structure of the program so that they actually make money on the deal!

For instance: the timber guys will try to get tree planting programs approved as carbon sink offset programs, so regulated entities can pay them to plant trees rather than buy carbon credits on the market. But the bureaucrats know that they can't allow ALL the potential revenue to go to offset programs - they want their money! - so they will negotiate precisely how much of the carbon reduction goals can be met by carbon sinks, and how much by purchasing credits.

Yep - there it is, section 9.2 - an arbitrary limit on offsets, which they will probably set at 10%. How did I know?! Every other industry and company will be in the game, too, and there are limitless ways those with political influence can lessen the impact on themselves and push it over to the other guy.

Now, as I said, the point of this whole exercise is for the governments involved to tax energy so they can funnel the money to all their friends for the plethora of environmental and sustainability projects. But they have to strike a balance.

As I said, each state gets to decide what percentage of the "allowances" are 'auctioned" and what percentage are "granted." Essentially, this is a way to pay off the various industries so they go along. The question is basically how much wealth will be transferred from consumers to government, and how much from consumers to industry. The plan leaves that up to each state, but they are trying to decide on a "minimum percentage of allowances subject to auction by each state."

This is how they talk. "subject to auction" means TAXED. When they say "allowances" that means "how much energy we will let you use." When the talk about "the value of each partner's allowance budget," they mean "how much tax money is raised by forcing regulated entities to purchase the carbon credits."

And oh, do they have big plans for that money! :
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy incentives and achievement;
  • Research, development, demonstrations and deployment (RDD&D) with
    particular reference to carbon capture & sequestration (CCS);
  • renewable energy generation, transmission and storage; and energy efficiency;
  • Promoting emission reductions and sequestration in agriculture and
    forestry and other uncapped sources;
  • Reducing consumer impacts, especially for low-income consumers;
  • Providing for worker transition and green jobs;
  • Providing transition assistance to industries;
  • Adaptation to climate change impacts;
  • Recognizing early actions to reduce emissions; and
  • Promoting economic efficiency.
Nowhere is there any talk of how much tax money will be raised through this scheme. Imagine! They are proposing a monumental tax on energy to supposedly save us from global warming. But nowhere do they: 1) estimate the actual benefit in terms of how much global warming will be reduced, or 2) tell us how much we are going to pay!

Of course, the crack journalists at our daily so-called newspaper can be counted on to drill down and ask the tough questions, right? (Insert belly laugh here.)

Yeah right - here is what The Funny Paper reported, in their single article, buried in the business section, had to say about the cost:

"State officials who unveiled the approach in Gov. Ted Kulongoski's offices said the draft strategy's mandates may push power rates and fuel prices up slightly. But Oregonians should see lower bills in the end because the strategy promotes conservation measures that should reduce energy use, they said. "

OK then! Who could possibly need any more than that? The bureaucrats say this will actually SAVE us money! No need for any other opinion on it. Good enough for us!

OK, I am running out of time here - I have to catch a baseball game. I'll probably drill down more on this later. I hope everyone can see, however, what a monstrosity this will quickly grow into.

A huge tax increase, the amount of which they will not estimate, with no pretense of even estimating how much or whether the tax would solve the problem that they claim requires the tax.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tony Snow passes away

What a shame it is for Tony Snow to die. He was one of the most upbeat guys in politics, and was truly a terrific guy.

I first became a fan of Tony's when he was a columnist for Detroit News, long before FoxNews started. I really liked his perspective in his columns.

In the early 1990's, as the internet was just getting going, I signed up for a AOL account, and started exploring the wonders of the AOL world. I liked to frequent a chat room, called "ACLU" which had a lot of robust political debate. Who did I see there? Screen name TonySnow.

So I emailed him at, asked it it was THE Tony Snow, and he admitted it was. We traded a few emails over the next couple years.

One day, shortly after FoxNews started, I was in Wash DC, and thought "what the heck, wouldn't it be cool to meet Tony?" I called up Fox, got his voice mail and explained that there wasn't any particular reason he should have lunch with me, but I was in town and it would be nice to meet him. He called back right away, couldn't have lunch because he was out of town.

That is the kind of guy Tony Snow was. There was never a pretentious bone in the guy's body.

I next met him when his radio show was on KXL, and he came to town to do one of our "TalkFest" events. He was the headliner, Lars was the warm up act. But the festivities were kicked off by my then 15 year old daughter Jessica, who sang the National Anthem as I stood backstage with Tony.

As she finished singing the song, on stage at the Rose Garden, double jumbo screens on either side of the stage showing her, Tony looked at me, kind of as a dad would who fully understood what another dad might be feeling at that moment, and just kind of nodded. He reached over an patted my back, said: "good job."

I think what made Tony so human is that he was so much more than a colunmist, a FoxNews pundit, a syndicated talk show host, a presidential spokesperson.

He was a father.

THAT was what was most important to him, and it came through in moments like the one I shared with him.

Tony Snow, I will miss you. I can't pretend I was a close friend - really just a person whose orbit occassionally crossed his. But I will miss his sunny dispostion, his upbeat views even in the face of personal strife and illness, and his ability to communicate with people because at core, he was just another dad, in love with his daughter and trying to raise his kids the best he could.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is a narrative starting to form?

Could it be that Barack Obama's craven flip-flops are starting to create a what will be a lasting and harmful narrative that will define his candidacy throughout the fall?

I have been watching Obama's campaign - and the media's coverage of it - very closely since he became the frontrunner after Super Tuesday. What he did was remarkable. Beating the Clinton machine is a magnificent accomplishment.

But from the get-go, I was amused by this charismatic fellow. Actually, more amused by the totally credulous response he got from his supporters and the media. The guy is really just another bullshit artist - his words don't come close to matching the reality of his background and his political resume.

But so many people just lapped it up, so EXCITED about this fresh new figure who was a so very different kind of politician.


He's proving it now, with his sudden, shameless about faces on his Iraq timetable, FISA, guns, public financing and everything else. Just another triangulating, poll testing politician. The only sad part is he had so many people fooled in the first place.

It is the hardly uncommon for a presidential nominee to run to the center after wrapping up the nomination. For the usual candidate, it is hardly fatal. But Obama didn't sell himself as the usual candidate - he sold himself as different. The people he got excited - the new voters, the college kids - all the folks who drove the huge turnout for Democrats - they will disappear into the ether as soon as they realize this guy is just another smooth talking politician who will say whatever he needs to say to win.

And that is the narrative that seems to be taking shape in a manner that will stick. He sold himself so effectively as a different kind of candidate that when his actions and words prove he isn't, it becomes a defining issue.

Remember the Republican National Convention in 2004? I forget whose speech it was, but he was blasting Kerry for being a flip-flopper, and the crowd was ready for it, waving their actual flip-flops, chanting "FLIP-FLOPPER!"

That was a narrative that stuck to Kerry like glue. I think there may now be the same kind of narrative forming about Obama that he won't be able to shake, and that defines this yet-to-be-defined candidate in a way that really disappoints all those young, eager and idealistic voters who flocked to Obama as their political messiah.